Thursday, July 30, 2015

Washington DC Is Sinking Into The Sea; Will Take Bad Politicos With It?

Burlington (Vermont) Free Press editor and writer Adam Silverman created a splash on the pages of USA Today this week by reporting on splashy research indicating Washington DC is sinking.

Well, we knew for ages that metaphorically, Washington is sinking, but now Silverman tells us that University of Vermont research say the sinking scenario is literal.

Washington DC is sinking, and the ocean is rising
Rut ruh, Jim Inhofe!!  
Or, as Silverman puts it, "......the results of a study that concludes the District of Columbia is sinking is a physical manifestation of the political environment in the nation''s capital."

The news has been picked up by all the major news outlets. Cue the late night comic jokes, too.

Here's the problem:

The U.S. Geological Survey and UVM research shows much of DC sits on land dredged up from the Potomac River. It's settling, and is expected to fall six inches or more during the next 100 years.

Meanwhile, sea levels are rising, possibly faster than first thought, due to climate change.

Money quote in the USA Today article:

"'It's ironic that the nation's capital, the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change, is sitting in one of the worst spots in could be,' said Paul Bierman a geologist at the University of Vermont in Burlingotn and senior author of the new paper about Washington's descent, said in a statement. 'Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter?'"

Probably not, the way things are going. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-OK, will probably just grab another snowball to "prove" to the world that Washington is not in climate and elevation trouble.

I'll just let Silverman do a little more reporting here, as seen in USA Today:

"'This falling land will exacerbate the flooding that the nation's capital faces from rising ocean waters due to a warming climate and melting ice sheets  - accelerating the threat to the region's monuments, roads, wildlife refuges and military installations,' University of Vermont researchers said in releasing the findings Tuesday."

We've heard about Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Will Congress, under the powerful intoxicant of the fossil fuel lobby, throw snowballs while Washington DC sinks?


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Everlasting Snow Still On The Ground In Buffalo, New York In July

This afternoon, the temperature reached a steamy 90 degrees in Buffalo, New York.

That belies the city's exaggerated reputation as a snowy icebox except for this. In one vacant lot in the city, you could still find snow today. A fair amount of it, in fact.

Last November, Buffalo was slammed by an epic lake effect snow storm. 

Up to seven feet of snow fell in just a few days in parts of the Buffalo region, and of course, it's hard to figure out what to do with that much snow.
Wanna cool off on a hot summer day? Head
 to Buffalo to enjoy the remains of their immense snow pile
left over from last November.  

A lot of it was transported by the city off the streets to an abandoned lots. Up to 11,000 truckloads of snow ended up there. The piles were as high as the light poles.

A pile of snow that big takes a while to melt. A long while. In fact, some of it is still there, television station WKBN reports in a dispatch that has been picked up by the media across the nation.

As of this week, one of the leftover piles is about the size of two school buses parked end to end, and another pile is a bit smaller.  The larger pile is still about ten feet tall.

A layer of dirt covers the snow. It was picked up with the snow plows when it was being cleared from Buffalo streets in November. As the now melted, the dirt became more concentrated, and became a pretty thick layer on top of the snow.

That's insulating the snow from the summer warmth, so the snow is only melting very slowly. There's even grass growing on top of the dirt that covers the snow. So the snow pile in Buffalo is sort of a mini-Arctic permafrost.

New York State Climatologist Mark Wysocki said if there's enough dirt to insulate the snow, some could still be there when the snow starts flying again this coming late autumn.

I'm sure the fine residents of Buffalo, New York are just thrilled by the prospect of year-round snow.

The snow is slowly melting, mostly from the bottom. The dirt on top is insulating the snow from above, but the warmth in the ground spreads under the pile, melting it from the bottom.

Buffalo isn't the only city that had summer snow this year. Boston had its epic snows in January and February. 

After record snows hit Boston, crews removing the snow from city streets created a pile 75 feet tall. The last of that snow didn't finish melting away until mid-July.

Here's a time lapse of the snow pile in Boston melting through the spring and early summer. The video has a helpful red line on the image to show where the pile started at as it began to melt:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Odd Strong Storm Spawns Huge Manitoba Tornado, Wyoming Snow

The tornado in Manitoba, Canada was so strong it ripped
up asphalt on a road. Photo by storm chaser Greeg Johnson.  
A low pressure system, strong for this time of year, is causing all kinds of unusual weather in the Northern Plains of the U.S., parts of the praries in south central Canada, and in the Rocky Mountains.

Storm systems are usually weak this time of year, but this one really wound up.

Yesterday, it spawned a gigantic, really strong tornado in Manitoba. The tornado stayed on the ground for nearly three hours, says CBC, the Canadian broadcaster. 

That's unusual, since tornadoes, especially in that part of the world, typically stay on the ground for no more than several minutes.

Luckily, it hit sparsely populated areas, because it was a powerful one It ripped asphalt up from one road, for example.

I have a mixed mind about the video, below, as these Reed Timmer and his group of tornado chasers get much too close to it repeatedly. But it is an incredible sight. Especially the multiple vortices rotating within the main tornado.

News about very odd snow, high winds and other features below the video of the Manitoba tornado



Behind the front, it snowed in Montana and Wyoming. Yep, snow in July.

Snow in July is not unheard of in the highest elevations in the Rockies, but it's pretty rare. Especially since this one got down to 8,000 feet above sea level and hit quite a few areas.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Glacier National Park were among the areas to report snow.

It was cold in the valleys, too. Around 3 p.m. Monday, it was raining hard in Missoula, Montana with a temperature of 47 degrees. In July!

Don't worry, summer is not over in Missoula. By this weekend, daytime highs there will be in the mid 80s.  
It probably would have been a good idea to break
out the rock skis in Jackson Hole, Wyoming yesterday.  

On the bright side, all that rain that came down  with this storm in many of Montana's lower elevations, putting a dent in a drought and helping suppress forest fires burning in the region, says the Great Falls (Montana) Tribune.

Of course, the heavy rain falling on burn areas increased the risk of flash floods, since vegetation was gone.

Another strange aspect of this storm is the strong winds blowing across eastern Montana and the western Dakotas. 

Such strong west and northwest winds are common there in the winter, but not this time of year.

Leaves on the trees act as little sails, so when these strong winds hit trees in full leaf, it will pull them down more easily than in the winter. So the northwestern Plains are bracing for power failures and such today.

As the storm keeps moving into Canada, summer weather will gradually make a return to the areas that got this July winter reminder.



Monday, July 27, 2015

The First Climate Change Presidential Election?

Hillary Clinton says she will reveal details today
on her plans for climate change if she's elected president.  
This will be the first U.S. Presidential Election in which climate change is a huge campaign issue.

Yes, it's come up in every election since at least the early 1990s, but this time, it's front and center.

Today in Iowa, Democrat Hillary Clinton said she would reveal details of her climate change platform, and said she wants to make the issue a major focus of her administration, should she win the White House

Clinton teased today's expected climate agenda during the weekend, says Time.com 

"I want more wind, more solar, more advanced biofuels, more energy efficiency....."And I've got to tell you, people who argue against this are just not paying attention."

Climate change won't be as big an issue during the primaries. Democrats are pretty much in agreement that this is an issue that needs to be an important part of their would-be administrations.

The people in the very crowded Republican field in general say human-induced climate change is either not a major factor, or doesn't even exist.  They're not unanimous on that, though. Rand Paul has acknowledged the existence of man-made climate change and might support regulations that aren't ad odds with job loss, says Huffington Post. 

The fireworks will start when Republicans and Democrats start to clash over what, if anything to do about climate change.  It'll be almost as if the heat of the battle will itself intensify global warming.

The fight has already begun.

Last week, Demoratic candidate Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland, linked the Syrian conflict and the rise of ISIS in part to climate change.  He said a possible climate change related drought in Syria helped destabilize the region and you get the mess you have now.

Republicans pounced, saying the link was ridiculous.

At first glance, O'Malley's comments do seem like a little bit of a stretch. But a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year said the drought worsened water security and agricultural problems, causing 1.5 million rural Syrians to flee to urban areas.

This migration and disruption was one factor in creating the Syrian civil war, and by extention, the subsequent rise of ISIS.

I bet the Republicans will go after Bernie Sanders on climate change, too. Sanders is quite the climate hawk, and has suggested increasing taxes on fossil fuel producers.

I remember back in early 2013, when I worked at the Burlington (Vt) Free Press, Sanders summoned me to his Burlington office on an oddly warm January day to discuss his climate change legislation that would have increased taxes on fossil fuel corporations and boost the prospects of green energy companies.

Republicans in Congress didn't go for this, but still.

Given the HUGE difference, say between Clinton and the Republicans or Sanders and most Republicans on climate change, you're going to hear a lot about the issue between now and election day 2016.

Let's hope the debate generates light instead of more heat, but I'm not counting on it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Glad I Wasn't On This Flight To Netherlands Saturday

Big tree down in Amsterdam, The Netherlands after
worst summer storm on record Saturday. Photo
by Annemarje Heijerman via Instagram.  
The severest summer wind storm to hit the Netherlands at least since reliable records began in 1901 swept through Saturday, killing at least one person, injuring several others and causing widespread damage.

Winds gusted as high as 75 mph along the coast.  Tree damage was very bad in and around Amsterdam.

This wasn't a local thunderstorm. A strong low pressure system, very unusual for this time of year, blew across the region.

That storm did touch off a lot of severe thunderstorms ahead of its cold front in Poland and other countries.

One video that came out of the storm was a KLM flight trying to land in the storm. Spoiler: It did make it, and nobody got hurt, but I would have hated to be in this plane:


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Newfoundland Meteorologists Arrested Because Of VERY Crummy Summer

St. John', Newfoundland meteorologist Ryan Snodden
being arrested for trafficking in lousy
summer weather this year in that part of Canada.  
The weather has been totally lousy this month in Newfoundland. Unless, of course, you like midsummer fog, drizzle, gloom and chill.

Newfoundland and Labrador are obviously not known for their delightful weather, what with their everlasting frigid and stormy winters that make New England look like a tropical paradise. S

till, it can get nice this time of year in Newfoundland.  Just not this year.

It's been so bad a local meteorologist was arrested for not delivering summer weather, says USA Today. 

Don't worry, not really. It was a stunt. People are just finding ways to release their frustration over Newfoundland's Summer That's Not.

You can see the video of the arrest of one of the meteorologists at the bottom of this post. It's really awesome.

It started with a missing persons report of sorts from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Their press release said:

"Summer was last seen in early August of 2014. When last seen, summer was described as being between 20-30 degrees Celius (68-86 degrees Fahrenheit) blue skies with a bright and warm source of light in the sky. There have been sporadic sightings of this bright object, but these sightings have been rare since May 2015."

Then came the arrests of two meteorologists in St. John's Newfoundland for aiding and abetting the foul summer weather, specifically the rain, drizzle and fog, known in the area as RDF, reports USA Today, which by the way is headquarted in hot, very steamy Virginia.

Ryan Snodden of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. local affiliate in St. John's and Eddie Scheerr of NTV were both taken into "custody" by authorities.

Police spokesman Steven Curnew said Snodden was "charged with impersonating a meteorologist, failing to provide the essentials of summer - that being sunshine, good forecasts and blue skies. - and we also have him on trafficking of RDF."

Scheerr is a United States citizen and could be deported from Canada, local police joked. "Unfortunately, due to the weather, it could be two weeks before we could get a flight out of St. John's Airport."

In the short term, things don't look like they'll improve much. This weekend's forecast from Environment Canada features showers and drizzle both Saturday and Sunday in St. John's with high temperatures of around 11 or 12 Celcius. That's only the low to mid 50s Fahrenheit. Brrrr!!

Late this coming week, Environment Canada offers a glimmer of hope, forecast highs near 20 to 22 Celcius (near 70 Fahrenheit) with partly sunny skies.

Here's the tongue in cheek video of Snodden under arrest for hiding summer and replacing it with RDF. Pretty damn weird but funny:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dance Of The Umbrellas On Maryland Beach

Beach umbrellas race in the wind down an
Ocean City, Maryland beach as a storm arrived Monday.  
On Monday, a gusty thunderstorm rolled into Ocean City, Maryland.

The beach had lots of blue umbrellas to give people shade from the hot sun. Had, because the thunderstorm took the umbrellas and bounced them away, down the beach.

You'll see it in the video below.

The umbrellas could have hurt someone, with their metal poles, but it's still funny to watch. And for the record, I have heard no reports of injuries with this storm on the beach.

H/T to Dennis Mersereau of The Vane, which is Gawker's excellent weather blog, for calling our attention to this video. The video starts slightly slow, but gets good just after the one minute mark:



Social Media Hyping NYC Tropical Storm; Don't Buy It

One forecasting model has a tropical
storm near NYC around Aug 2
but is likely an inaccurate prediction.  
If you hear that a nasty tropical storm is going to strike somewhere near New York City or Long Island on or around August 2, take it with an ENORMOUS grain of salt.

Some computer models come up with some sort of system like that about that time, but a lot of them do not.

Computer forecasting models are pretty good, but are notoriously unreliable when trying to determine  the strength and location or even existence of a tropical storm or hurricane nine days ahead of time.

One recent run of the European model has a tropical storm or hurricane hitting the North Carolina coast, the heading north toward Long Island.

Most of the other forecasting models are not showing this. Something very different, and very likely much more benign, might be along the East Coast then. Maybe there will be a cold front and a few thunderstorms, maybe not. It's way too soon to tell.

I suppose some sort of tropical system could form then near or off the U.S. coastline, but if it does, nobody REALLY has an idea where yet.

Every time a model does predict something like this a week and a half out, some of the more hyper weather geeks on social media go into alarm mode. I guess it's good for Web hits.

To be fair, most of the responsible weather geeks I've seen on social media are giving this tropical storm idea the same kind of skepticism I'm giving here, so that's a good thing.

I suppose for the next week, it will be fun to see if computer forecasting models come around to this idea of a tropical storm, but right now, I'm totally doubting it.

The time to pay attention is just a few days before the supposed storm. If, three days before it hits, the forecasts continue to predict it, then perk up. But for now, go back to your summer doldrums.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jim Hansen Says Your Favorite Coastal Cities Are Going To Drown

If sea levels rise substantially with climate change
what do we do with this big South Florida neighborhood?  
This hasn't been the greatest week in climate change news.

We learned, as I noted Tuesday, that June, 2015 was the hottest on record, according to NOAA. And this year has a strong chance of being the hottest on record, beating the mark set last year.

Then former NASA chief climatologist Jim Hansen came along to really put people in a bad mood. For good reason, too.

Hansen is the guy in 1988 who brought climate change to the national conversation during congressional testimony during that hot summer.

Climate change has been, pardon the pun, a hot button issue ever since.

Hansen's science and general predictions since then about global warming have been spot on, but he's got a lot of people hoping he's totally wrong about how sea levels will change as the planet warms.

He says sea levels will rise by about 10 feet by 2100, much faster than outfits like the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC project. The IPCC has been saying the sea level rise would be something like three feet by the year 2100.

Many coastal cities tend to be just a few feet above sea level now, so you can see how a rise three times as much as current predictions would be a HUGE problem.

Here's how The Daily Beast put it as they described Hansen's latest research and comments on sea levels

"This roughly 10 feet of sea level rise - well beyond previous estimates - would render coastal cities such as New York, London and Shanghai uninhabitable. 'Parts of (our coastal cities) would still be sticking above the water,' Hansen says, 'but you couldn't live there.'"

We've heard these dire warnings about coastal cities and sea level rises again and again as we talk about global warming.

What's different here is Hansen says this coastal inundation will come much sooner than previous research projected.

Hansen's work indicates Earth's ice is melting faster and the oceans are getting higher much faster than expected.

If Hansen and the 16 other scientists he worked with on this are  right, it would be much harder than expected to buttress coastal cities against the rising tides. And they'd have to do it much faster.

It would cost untold billions of dollars to do this, and the faster you have to raise that kind of money, the harder it is.

As the Daily Beast noted, Hansen's work might throw a monkey wrench into the big United Nationsl climate summit in Paris this coming December.

The goal there is to limit Earth's warming to 2 degrees Celcius, but Hansen says even an increase of 2 degrees would be catastrophic, especially for coastal areas.

So, will everybody at the summit just give up and say we can't fix this and to hell with it? Who knows?

CAVEATS

There are some caveats to this Jim Hansen bombshell. The research isn't peer-reviewed yet, having been published in an open access journal in which peer review takes place after publication, not before.

It will be a while yet to see whether other scientists poke holes in Hansen's conclusions after they review it.

Climate scientist Michael Mann, a guy not shy about warning about the dangers of climate change, said he is a little skeptical of Hansen's assumptions that melting of ice shelves will accelerate constantly with time.

Might there be slowdowns in the rate of ice warming? We don't know. Still, Mann said Hansen's research is good in that it puts out provocative ideas for other scientists and policy makers to chew over.

It'll be interesting to see how well Hansen's research holds up under scrutiny. As I noted, he does have a track history of being very accurate with his work.


RISING TIDE IN SOUTH FLORIDA

If Hansen is right, one place that's particularly screwed if Hansen is right is South Florida

The Globe and Mail had a piece  about the trouble the southern tip of Florida is in if sea levels rise even slower than Hansen and his buddies suggest:

"Few places are as geographically ill-equipped to deal with rising water as southern Florida. Not only is much of the land barely a few feet above sea level, it also sits on a bed of porous limestone and sand, maked measures such as dikes far less effective.

Higher sea levels would eat away at the barrier islands that buffer the coast against powerful storms - which is hugely problematic, given that more powerful storms are one of the hallmarks of climate change. The rising water also threatens to slip inland and contaminate the wells that provide much of the region's drinking water."

Even for people in South Florida who live above the level that water is projected to rise to, they're still screwed. Yes, the house might be above water, says Harold Wanless, chair of the Department of Geological Science at the University of Miami.

But Winless said, sewage services are kaput, there might not be electricity, and the roads to and from this house might be under water. Sounds lovely, no?

Eventually, a lot of people are going to have to abandon South Florida. They're still building seaside condos and shopping centers and entertainment places like mad. So what happens to all that when the water rises?

As the Globe and Mail points out, what if insurance companies stop covering these at-risk properties? It you can't insure your house or building, it's basically worthless.

If people abandon lots and lots of threatened property, then what? Are banks left on the hook for abandoned mortgages? What happens to commerce in what's left of the area. Where do you put all the people who leave South Florida? Will there be severe economic ripple effects throughout the nation?

If Jim Hensen is right, things are going to get very VERY messy in the coming decades. And not just with the climate and sea levels alone.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Silliness: TV Meteorologist Channels Taylor Swift

A Washington DC gave a very Taylor Swiftian
forecast in anticipation of her concer
last week in the nation's Capitol.  
Taylor Swift had her big outdoor concert last week in Washington DC, and there was some question as to whether the rain would hold off.

Meteorologist Mike Thomas of Fox 5 in Washington had the scoop on the Taylor Swift concert weather forecast.

He channeled Swift to give his predictions.

I don't know whether you'll groan or laugh, but here is it forecast (which, by the way, proved accurate. The rain stayed away):


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

June Was Hottest On Record And The Ice Age That's Supposedly Coming by 2030 Really Isn't

I suppose I could have just copied and pasted previous posts this year to make up the first part of this one.

Hot times on Earth again. June was
hottest on record, says NOAA  
That's because once again in 2015, we just had another month that was the hottest on record.

NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information said June, 2015 was the world's hottest since accurate records started in around 1880.

The reason I could have copied and pasted this info, because I, and the rest of the media, basically previously reported NOAA said May, 2015 was the hottest on record. So was March, 2015. As was February, 2015.  

Two things are happening that put 2015 well on the way to be the hottest on record. As we know, the overall trend in global temperatures is upward, so the chances of getting a hot year keep increasing as global climate change continues to charge ahead.

Also, a strong El Nino is blossoming. That tends to pool very warm water into the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. More importantly, El Nino releases heat stored in the Pacific into the atmosphere, boosting worldwide temperatures.

Combine global warming and El Nino, and you get a record warm year. Last year - 2014 - was the warmest on record, but it's getting more and more likely that 2015 will beat that record.

On top of that, there seems like there could be a feedback loop going on. Global warming makes the Pacific Ocean hotter than it otherwise would be, which strengthens El Nino even more that it normally would, which heats the atmosphere more, which in turn contributes to more heating of the Pacific and so on and so on.

With this latest climate change news, maybe we want some news about cooling.

Well, then, the Internets and Facebooks and Twitters and all that over noise of the world has been abuzz this past week about this breaking news: Forget global warming. A new mini ice age is coming soon to a planet near you. Namely Earth. Namely within 10 or 20 years or so.

The only problem with this "news" is, it ain't going to happen.  Sorry, it's going to stay hot, at least on a global basis.

This mini-ice age stuff all started when a a British researcher, Valentina Zkarkova, said sunspot activity is going to fall off sharply by 2030.

The last time this happened was back in the 17th century, and the sunspot minimum then coincided with the so-called "Little Ice Age" when, as the Washington Post puts it, "Europe's winters turned brutally cold, crops failed and rivers froze over."

This news of a coming sunspot minimum, and the leap to conclude this will cause another mini ice age, took the parts of the British press controlled by Rupert Murdoch by storm.

Just FYI, Murdoch is one of those people who insist that global warming isn't such a big deal. Not sure how much that influences his papers, but keep it in mind anyway.

The mini-ice age story swept through the world and the United States faster than an Arctic cold front racing down from Canada.

For instance, the Murdoch-owned Daily Mail blared the news of this imminent turn to frigid global conditions as if the cold front were on our doorstep now.

So, we can forget about global warming and stock up on skis, parkas and such, right?  
During the "Little Ice Age"in the 16th and 17th century, they
used to hold fairs on the solid ice atop the Thames River
in London. Despite media reports to the contrary, those
days ain't coming back.  

Um, no.

First of all, Zkarkova DID do this research and predicts the solar minimum, but nowhere in her presentation to the Royal Astronomical Society did she mention any kind of mini ice age.

The last time there was a big slowdown in solar activity, called the Maunder minimum was during that chilly period in the 1600s and 1700s.

Zkarkova herself is perplexed by the ice age obsession her research inspired:

She's quoted in USA Today:

"In the press release, we didn't say anything about climate change.....My guess is when they heard about the Maunder minimum, they used Wikipedia or something to find out more about it."

It's possible the sunspot minimum might hold back rising temperatures on Earth a tiny bit. It's even possible the minimum could slow the pace of global warming a tiny, tiny bit.  Who knows, there might even be a chilly winter or two in Europe. But fossil fuel emissions far outweigh the "cooling" effects of any ebbs in solar activity. 

My problem with this media frenzy about the "mini ice age" is it implies that the sunspot minimum Zkarkova predicts automatically means that mini ice age is coming. Just read the Huffington Post article on it:    No context, especially in the lead paragraph:

"Might want to start stockpiling those down jackets: The sun could not off by 2030, triggering what scientists are describing as a mini-ice age."

Um, no.

You'll still probably need a down jacket in the winter. But there's no "ice age" coming. Sorry.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pretty Nasty Flash Flood In Vermont Sunday

Flooding in downtown Barre last night. Photo by
Linda Willey-Campbell, via NECN.  
Reports are coming in of some pretty nasty flash flooding in parts of Vermont from Sunday's outbreak of severe storms.

As anticipated, the storms produced torrential rains. In the evening the storms seemed to focus on parts of east central and northeastern Vermont, and the result was some dangerous flash flooding.

The city of Barre took it on the chin, big time. For the second time in just four years, masses of water swept through some of the city's streets, flooding them with fast flowing water up to three feet deep.

There are no initial reports of injuries from the flooding but it had to be terrifying for people in homes that were suddenly in the midst of raging rivers. It was no doubt difficult to reach people trapped in building with the flash flooding around them.

Television station WCAX reported that people in houses surrounded by water were told to shelter in place Sunday evening. He said people inside flooded houses were told to call the city's public safety department or move up higher in the building.

Colchester Technical Rescue and Stowe Technical Rescue were called in to help people out of the flooded houses. Some people were evacuated to Barre Auditorium, which opened Sunday night as an emergency shelter, according to Vermont Public Radio, quoting an Vermont Emergency Management official.

Police and fire departments worked to keep people away from streets and roads that were under water. That included the heavily traveled and developed Barre-Montpelier Road.

The storms ended late last night, and as is the case with most flash floods, the water quickly receded by dawn, leaving a mess in its place.

Brief video footage on social media shows bulldozers trying to clear mud and muck from North Main Street and other normally busy areas of Barre as the sun rose this morning.
Television station WVNY posted this photo
on social ,media this morning showing bulldozers
trying to clear mud and debris from downtown
Barre, Vermont after flash flooding last night.  

What's especially troubling about this flood is it seems almost identical to a May, 2011 flood there that damaged a number of homes and businesses. 

These same homes and businesses are affected again, and I'm not sure most of these people recovered financially and otherwise from the previoius flood.

Other flash flood damage was reported around East Montpelier, Hardwick and Plainfield, Vermont, where at least one bridge was washed out.

Sections of some roads in eastern and central Vermont were still closed or down to one lane as of the morning rush hour Monday.

The storms were part of an outbreak of severe weather that brought hail up to the size of tennis balls in New Hampshire. Scattered reports of quarter sized hail and trees and wires down from high winds.

In Claremont, New Hampshire, a man was killed when a tree fell on a car he was driving during the storm, the Manchester Union Leader reports. 

In Hoosic Falls, New York, near the Vermont border, strong thunderstorm winds toppled a tree onto a moving car, injuring one person.

As is typical with these storms and flash floods, it was kind of hit and miss. While Barre was drowning, Burlington, Vermont only received 0.11 inches of rain from the storms.

After a break today, more showers and storms are forecast in Vermont and te rest of New England Tuesday, but the rain with those isn't expected to be nearly as torrential as the stuff we got Sunday.




From Route 62 down to the public safety building, depending on where you are, the road is underwater. Anywhere from 6 inches to close to 3 feet. We have officers on Berlin St turning people around, Berlin Police turning people around on the Barre Montpelier Rd., really just trying to get people to avoid those areas. People that are in their residences please stay in place, if there is an issue with water, call the Public Safety Dept. and move higher up in the building. And the water is moving very fast, we caution people to stay away from the fast water - when I went thru - it was 10 or 15 knots at least if not faster." said Chief Tim Bombardier of the Barre Police Dept.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weird Thunderstorms Abound This Weekend, And "Shelfie" Photos

An amazing shelf cloud at dawn in Wisconsin shared
on Twitter by photographer Shawn Hamachek.  
For the second morning in a row, I was awakened to rumbles of thunder as storms, just around dawn or a little after, rolled near or over my home in St. Albans, Vermont.

This morning's storm was not severe, but it did have some dramatic clouds that I managed to get some photos of.

The photos are OK, but pale in comparison to a storm around Green Bay, Michigan yesterday.

This was a severe one, and had a pronounced shelf cloud.  Shelf clouds often form in front of a strong or severe storm, along the gust front as it approaches. Shelf clouds resemble giant snow plows or tsunamis and are often quite scary looking.

But they aren't tornadoes, so that's good.

Dramatic shelf cloud in Wisconsin by Adam Bisner.  
Big thunderstorms in the northern hemisphere usually approach from the west, and usually come along in the afternoon or evening.

So shelf clouds are usually dark. The thunderstorm is blocking the sunlight behind the shelf cloud, so they're usually black and ominous.

Yesterday's storm in Wisconsin was odd in that it was severe, fully formed and coming through around dawn. So the sun, rising in the east, was able to light up the shelf cloud.

It was beautiful, especially in the photo with the calm lake water. Before the storm rolled over, the wind was calm, and so was the lake.

So photographer and storm chaser Adam Bisner and photographer Shawn Hamachek caught some great colors in the shelf cloud, which was leading the way for the dark and scary thunderstorm approaching.

Not a good morning for breakfast
on my St. Albans, Vermont deck
this morning. Not as dramatic as
Wisconsin but click on photo to
make it bigger, and see some
of the thunderstorm structure.  
By the way, you've heard of selfies, right? Those obiquitous photos people take of themselves and spread on social media.

Us weather geeks do something different. We refer to all these photos of shelf clouds as shelfies. Social media types take selfies. Weather geeks like me take shelfies.

Speaking of odd things and odd storms, there was a BUNCH of thunder and lightning in and around Los Angeles, California overnight.

It usually doesn't even rain in that neck of the woods this time of year, but the remnants of Hurricane Dolores, which was off the coast of Mexico last week, drifted north into the southwestern United States.

The Dolores remnants made southern California and Arizona strangely humid this weekend. The air is usually very dry there.

The result: Thunderstorms. California certainly needs the rain. Los Angeles got 0.32 inches of rain from the storms Saturday. That's not much,  but is smashes the old record rainfall for the date of 0.02 inches.

Like I said, it doesn't really rain in most of California this time of year, but this was an odd one.  Fresno, Calfornia had 0.36 inches of rain Saturday, also a record. The old record was just a trace. Fresno is also already having its wettest July on record, with 0.43 so far, breaking the old record of 0.33 in July, 1913.

Los Angeles also had a record high for the date Saturday, too. It was 85 degrees. (The biggest heat waves in Los Angeles tend to come in the late summer and fall, it's relatively cooler there in July.)

The California storms won't solve the drought, but the rain can't hurt.

Or can it? In the deserts of the southwest, it does. The heavy thunderstorms on the steep slopes, the sandy soil, have been causing flash floods. There were some Saturday, more are likely in the region today.

Some of the storms have been severe, too. Needles, California, again, deep in the desert, had a severe, torrential thunderstorm with wind gusts to 64 mph.

Today, more traditional severe thunderstorms, if there is such a thing as traditional severe weather, will hit much of the eastern Great Lakes and the Northeast today. New England is under the highest threat.

Time to get my camera ready for more shelfies.



Shelf clouds often resemble snow plows, big waves or tsunamis and can be very scary-looking since they are usually low-hanging. Sometimes they may found only a couple hundred feet above the ground. There are two other phenomena that might rese

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fire And Ice Raining Down On Us

From NBC News: Cars burn after being caught in a brush fire
that swept across Interstate 15 in California.  
As usual, there was plenty of weird weather drama around the United States and around the world in the past couple of days.

You probably heard about that brush fire in very, very droughty California. It swept across a freeway somewhere near San Bernardino, stopping motorists in thick smoke, sending the drivers running for their lives.

The fire along Interstate 15 set a number of vehicles on fire. At least 20 cars were destroyed.

Sounds like a blast. Not that kind of traffic issue I'd want to encounter

Luckily, I haven't heard of any serious injuries. More weird weather to report below this freeway brush fire video:



Meanwhile, in sunny Hawaii, it snowed Friday. In July. Seriously.

A passing thunderstorm and near freezing temperatures atop 13,796 Mauna Kea combined to produce the 1.5 inches of snow Friday.

It's a wicked tall mountain, so it snows regularly there in the winter, but no so often in the summer. But it does happen sometimes.

Don't worry, the balmy beaches of Waikiki didn't share in the snow. The high temperature in Honolulu yesterday was 90 degrees

Check out this timelapse taken atop Mauna Kea Friday. You see nothing until halfway through the 24-second video, so be patient:



An even rarer snow hit parts of Australia this week, too. It IS winter in the Land Down Under, so you expect it to be colder there. And it often snows in the high elevations in parts of Australia during their winter.

Areas near Sydney recorded the coldest temperatures and the most snow since the 1970s and 1980s. There wasn't much snow, just a few inches, and it didn't fall in the big cities, but nearby, it did snow.

You'd expect to see the scene in the next video in Buffalo, New York in December, not Australia any time of year, but this is what it looked like this week:




Back in the United States, a spell of very humid, hot weather is spending the weekend in the eastern half of the nation. I don't expect many, if any record highs to fall, but the humidity is hellish.

And, that's contributing to ice. Giant hailstones fell on parts of the northern Plains, especially in South Dakota, as you'll see in the video below.  Hail in some areas was as big as baseballs or even soft balls. Though the hail itself certainly wasn't soft!

There were also reports of tornadoes. Winds gusted to (Yikes!) 97 mph near Clear Lake, South Dakota and 92 mph in Summit, South Dakota.

The tornadic storms evolved into a nasty squall line that swept across Minnesota and was waking people up before dawn in Wisconsin early this morning with lots of wind and lightning

Expect more storms, some strong to severe in the Great Lakes and maybe into parts of New England today.

Here's a tornadic storm, beginning with a time lapse of a wall cloud, then a TON of hail near Sisseton, South Dakota Friday. Video is from StormChasingVideo

Friday, July 17, 2015

Big Dramatic Tornado In Illinois Yesterday

Big tornado in Illinois yesterday.  
A large scary looking tornado swept through an area of Illinois yesterday, about 200 miles southwest of Chicago.

I was surprised to see such a monster, but there was no good scientific reason why I was surprised

Large tornadoes are most common in the spring and early summer, and less common once you get into July. But you can still get biggies anytime of year, so this isn't so shocking.

There was a severe thunderstorm watch, but not a tornado watch in effect before the tornado formed. Just proves that severe thunderstorms can spin off tornadoes, even when forecasters think the risk of twisters is relatively low

Of course, once meteorologists detected rotation on radar, they issued a tornado warning for the area. Sometimes tornado warnings turn out to be false alarms. Not this time. So take heed whenever your area goes under a tornado warning.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting damage around the town of Cameron, Illinois, but early reports are there are no major injuries.

The tornado, as you'll see in the video below, was multi-vortex. That means there were small but intense tornadoes spinning inside the larger one.

Frequently in this video, you'll see the funnel cloud not actually touching the ground. But the tornado is there, believe me.

And while the main funnel doesn't always touch the ground, you'll see the suction vortices spinning around. (Suction vortices are the official name of those smaller tornadoes within the main one.)

Here's the video from storm chaser Kholby Martin.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kentucky Deaths Tragically Point To Power of Flash Floods

A house washes away in this week's Kentucky flood. 
When extreme rains hit hilly or mountainous terrain, the water rushes down the slopes with incredible power.  

This was once again demonstrated in eastern Kentucky, where at least four people died and others are missing after water from incredible rains roared off the hills and down a narrow mountain valley.

At first glance the video below shows a drive down a sunny Kentucky road. There's little sign of water anywhere. But then you see the smashed houses, or the missing houses, and the debris hung up in the trees.

The video is overlayed by the sound of a press conference right after the flood, and ends with a look at the anguish of victims.

Truly a scary looking scene in Kentucky:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

As Expected, Monday Was A Stormy Nightmare. Same Thing Today

Water rescues in Kentucky Monday.
Photo from Kentucky Emergency Management
As I noted early yesterday morning, the day would be a busy one for severe weather, and that certainly came true.

On top of the picturesque Kansas tornado I highlighted earlier today, much less fun, much more sad conditions stretched from Minnesota to North Carolina.

This included severe thunderstorm winds, hail, and even worse flash floods.

My prediction of a derecho I think came true, although that's still being verified. Derechos, you recall, are long lasting very severe thunderstom complexes that can literally almost go cross country.

The storm complex that developed with this outbreak got going near the North Dakota/Canada border Sunday, ended up in Wisconsin early Monday, and traveled toward the southeast, ending up in North Carolina last night.

Talk about a cross country journey! It produced damaging winds and flash floods along all of its path.

Behind this maybe derecho, more batches of intense thunderstorms formed. Some raked over the same areas over and over, dumping torrential rains and causing terrible flash floods.

One of the worst was in Kentucky, where at least one person died and several are missing. Widespread reports of flash flooding came in from Minnesota to West Virgina to western New York.

No one large area was devastated, but local flash floods caused extreme damage in some areas, plus the wind, the lighting and such I'm sure caused many, many millions of dollars worth of damage in wide areas of the central and eastern United States.

Today is shaping up to be almost as bad. Torrential thunderstorms continued into this morning in parts of Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and southwestern New York. These same areas are due for more severe, torrential storms today, so things don't look good.

As of shortly past noon today, severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado warning were up for parts of the Ohio Valley. A huge U-shaped area from western New York to Indiana and back over to Maryland were under flash flood watches.

Within this zone, some areas have flash flood warnings, which means the high water is happening now or will any second now.

As you can tell by this post, the most destruction from this severe storm outbreak came frorm torrential rain and flooding.

The inevitable question comes up: It seems these storms tend to cause more and more flooding. Is global climate change a culprit?

Maybe. These repeated, flooding storms are consistent with what climate scientists say would happen in a warming world. Just today, I read an article in which a team of German scientists concluded the last 30 years or so have seen a sharp increase in torrential storms and flooding across much of the planet.

In general, warmer air can hold more moisture than colder air, so if a storm comes along, there's more water available for heavier rain. Of course, if there's no storm system, and storms avoid a particular area, like California for months or years, you get big droughts, not big floods.

There has obviously always been big flash floods like the ones yesterday in Kentucky and elsewhere, but the trend is for the frequency and severeity of these floods to increase.

As an illustration of how bad things got, he's a video of a house washing away in the floods in Kentucky, then smacking into a bridge. Yikes!

Hutchinson, Kansas Tornado Was An Awesome Thing

The giant Hutchinson, Kansas tornado
roping out and stirring up a big
 cloud of dust on Monday.  
As part of a massive severe weather outbreak in the nation Monday (more on that later) a large tornado touched down right near Hutchinson, Kansas.  

Luckily, the enormous storm did not go right through Hutchinson, but mostly stayed in rural areas just outside town. So damage wasn't all that great.

What was great was how photogenic the Hutchinson tornado was. And how far and wide you could see it. One of the videos below is from a drone that captured the tornado.

From the photos (click on them to embiggen them) one person took a photo of the tornado from a jetliner flying sort of nearby. Another great photo is the one when the tornado is "roping out" but still flinging up tons of dust.

The tornado came out of a what is known as a low precipitation supercell, obviously meaning there wasn't much in the way of rain to spoil the tornado show.

Roping out is what a tornado very often does when it's falling apart and dissipating. It gets narrower and narrower until it finally looks like a rope dangling from the sky. Then it falls apart and becomes pretty much nothing.

The Hutchinson tornado as seen from a passing jetliner.  
The tornado near Hutchinson surely wasn't nothing, though.  

For videos, let's start with that drone view. I love how sunny and pleasant it seems where the drone is, in contrast to where the tornado is swirling:



Here's another view of it:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Big Severe Storm Outbreak Skirts Edges Of Heat Wave Today

Areas in red in this map have the highest chance
 of seeing very severe thunderstorms and maybe
 a few tornadoes today.  
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms packing destructive winds, hail, lightning nad flooding rains raked parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin yesterday and last night.

The exciting batch of weather if anything is going to intensify as the weather system causing the storms slides southeast through the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and into the Southeast.

This is a classic so-called "Ring of Fire" severe weather outbreak.

This refers to a common mid-summer weather setup in which a hot high pressure system sets up, in this case over the southern Plains. Around the northern periphery of these heat ridges, a ring of thunderstorms often sets up.

That's the "Ring of Fire" I talked about.

Sometimes on the northern or northereastern most part of the Ring of Fire, a particularly nasty batch of storms develops. Often, this becomes a derecho that races east or southeast into the United States.

I don't know if this case will result in a derecho, but as of early Monday morning, it looks like the severe storms were maybe organizing into one in Wisconsin. If this develops it wil race southeastward into Illinois,  Indiana and a good chunk of the Ohio River Valley.

A should step back and define a derecho. The official definition is that it's an intense line of storms that covers a distance of at least 250 miles, and inclues wind gusts of at least 58 mph along most of its lentgth, and has several, well separated gusts of at least 75 mph.

It's not unheard of to get reports of winds gusting to 110 or 120 mph in parts of some derechos.

A lot of us weather geeks and bloggers are reluctant to use the term "derecho" in advance of one because when you use the "D" word, it becomes the subject of a lot of media hype. After all, derechos are worse, more widespread and cause more damage than a typical, usually smaller line of severe summer storms.
Damage from a 2009 derecho in Carbondale, Ill.  

But in this case, it looks like there well could be an official derecho today, perhaps already beginning to be underway as of early Monday morning. We'll have to see it it is an official derecho after all is said and done tonight.

By the way, a derecho isn't the only dangerous risk today in the storm zone.

Supercell thunderstorms might get going ahead of the main band, or bands of thunderstorms. These can spin up tornadoes, and the region I've outline for today's severe weather could get a few tornadoes.

One or two of these tornadoes might end up being quite strong, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.    

Flash flooding is also possible in some of these areas, because the torrential rain associated with the storms will move over areas that have already gotten LOTS of rain this month.

Needless to say, watch out if a derecho gets going. Derechos are very dangerous, because they cover a wide area and often move over heavily populated areas.

One of the most famous recent derechos, in June, 2012 moved from the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley areas into the Mid-Atlantic states. It killed 22 people and cut power to at least 5 million people.

Some derechos can last a very long time. One of the worst was actually a series of derechos in July 1995 that extended from eastern Montana all the way to the New England coast.

One of these derechos crashed through Ontario and then into New York's Adirondacks late one hot night. Winds of 100 mph or more killed at least 5 Adirondack campers, and many more had to be rescued by helicopter as thousands or perhaps even millions of trees toppled in the extreme winds.

That derecho continued on into the Albany Capital District, southern Vermont and other parts of New England, causing widespread damage.

So you see, these things can be nasty. Very nasty.

If you're anywhere in a broad region between Wisconsin and the Carolinas today through tomorrow, keep  an eye to the sky and get indoors in a sturdy building at the first sign of storms or if you get a severe thunderstorm warning.

In many cases, these will be much more than the usual garden variety thunderstorms.




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Strangely Hypnotic Grass Blowing In The Wind On A Nice Summer Day

A pleasure of summer: Grass blows in the breeze 
One of the joys of summer is being outside, enjoying a warm breeze.

Or, as the melancholy Don Henley song "End Of The Innocence" goes,

"We'll sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind."

A guy named Gissur Simonarson in Gjerdrum,  near Oslo, Norway, recently did just that and came back with this strangely mesmerizing, beautiful video of a breezy summer day:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Smoke, Haze From Canada Fires Obscuring U.S. Summer

Smoke and haze from Canadian wildfires makes
for an eerie sunset over Lake Champlain
in St. Albans, Vermont Wednesday. 
Wednesday around my home in St. Albans, Vermont should have been one of those absolutely classic Green Mountain summer days.

A cold front had swept down from Canada early in the morning, whisking away stifling humidity that had settled over the state the day before, and that night.

Usually these cold fronts yield what I call "Blue/Green days, something the Vermont Department of Travel and Tourism regularly prays for.

In the fresh, dry Canadian airmass, Blue/Green days feature a brilliant, haze-free blue sky. The lush green of the hills, mountains and hayfields gleams royally in the sun.

The air is refreshing, the view for hikers from the mountaintops lasts forever, and you can almost hear the Trapp family singing "The Hills Are Alive....."

Not Wednesday. The cold front certainly cleared out the humidity. The sun came out, sort of. But the sky was a faint slate blue. The few clouds in the sky looked pinkish brown, not billowy white like usual. If you could see the mountains at all through the haze, they were just grayish blue, faint outlines.

What the hell happened to our glorious summer?

Wildfires.

Specifically, it's been hot and dry in the western half of Canada, much of Alaska and parts of the western United States. What is normally those clean, bright airmasses that occasionally drift down from Canada picked up a lot of this smoke and blew it across the border into New England.

Actually, much of the country is getting these smoke attacks. A big ridge of high pressure is contributing to the western heat and encouraging those fires. Downstream from the ridge, the airflow heads southeast into the United States, bringing the smoke from the fires with it.
A wildfire in Saskatchewan, Canada this month
Photo by Scott Knudsen, Northscope Photography via CBC.  n

Yes, it is a First World Problem on my end, complaining about hazy skies when I want a blue sky.

But the smoke and haze is just not a disappointment. It is pollution after all. Fine particles in the haze and smoke can cause lung trouble.

As the Washington Post noted, the 350 fires burning in Canada, some of them quite large, are sending enough smoke into the United States to occasionally prompt air pollution alerts.

People with pre-existing lung conditions in particular can really be hurt by all this smoke.

It looks like the entire rest of the summer will be smoky, at least occasionally. The number of fires, already huge, are expected to grow.

Enormous fires are burning in Saskatchewan, Canada. They're so huge that 1 percent of Saskatchewan's population has been forced to flee the fires. That's 13,000 people kicked out of their homes because of the fires.

Some experts think the Saskatchewan fires won't be completely extinguished until the snow flies, says the CBC  

This is anecdotal, but it seems to me we are seeing increasingly smoky summers due to Canadian, Alaskan and western fires in recent years.

The increase in these fires is consisten with what climate experts say is resulting from global warming. If that's the case, smoke and haze might end up becoming a permanent part of our once pristine New England summers.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Italy Gets A Big Scary Tornado, Kind Of LIke Oklahoma Does

When you think of a very large, very destructive tornado, you think about one of these storms wiping out a town in, say, Oklahoma, Iowa or South Dakota or something.

But tornadoes happen elsewhere in the world, too. Most of those are fairly weak, but every once in a while, there is unfortunately a blockbuster tornado.

Deadly tornado approaches a suburb of Venice,
Italy this week.  n
Such was the case near Venice, Italy this week. This was an EF3 tornado that swept through a heavily populated areas. EF3s pack winds of between 136 and 165 mph,  so such a tornado hitting a town is pretty much a worst case scenario.

In the Italy tornado, which hit suburbs just west of Venice, at least one person was killed, dozens injured and many buildings left in ruins, says the Independent UK

The one aspect of the tornado that has really lit up social media is the video taken from inside a car that was way, way too close to the twister.

Damage from yesterday's tornado near Venice, Italy.  n
I don't know why, in the beginning of the video while the occupants of the car were still out of harm's way, they kept driving toward what was obviously a large, destructive tornado.

As the car gets close to the tornado, it gets pelted with debris, and the people were extremely lucky one of those big pieces of sheet metal didn't shred them to pieces.  

It looks like the tornado changed course as they were trying to get away from it. If they were chasing the tornado, the tornado ended up chasing them.

Here is that video:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Thunderstorms Do Crazy Things

Storm clouds gather over Calgary, Canada
as a happy couple embrace last week.
Photo by Cassie Molyneux.  
Once again today, thunderstorms will produce flash flooding, vivid lightning and other troubles in parts of the nation today.

It's the middle of summer, so thunderstorms are de rigeur for this time of year.

Vast areas in the middle of the country are still under flood watches because of these storms.

Besides the flash floods, thunderstorms can do amazing, surprising things. Or be incredibly photogenic.

In Calgary, Alberta, Canada recently, a big thunderstorm unleashed a horrible pelting of hail, a lot of wind and a lot of rain.

According to Buzzfeed, that storm helped create a wedding photo for the ages, especially if the couple in question are weather geeks.

The happy couple, Helen Knight and Owen Chan, posed for a photo at a park overlooking Calgary as the storm approached. Photographer Cassie Molyneux caught the dramatic scene.  The photo leads this post. Click on it to make it bigger and easier to see.

Everybody in the wedding party then got caught outside in the storm and fled to a house to dry out.

Next in our summer thunderstorm tour, we learn that God must hate Wendy's fast food restaurants, judging from this brief but shocking video:



Finally, we have a beautiful time lapse video from Arizona of a thunderstorm producing a microburst.

Microbursts are violent downdrafts of air from a thunderstorm that hit the ground and spread out. They cover a small area, less than 2.5 miles in area, but can be as dangerous as a tornado.

Here you see the giant gush of rain that typically accompanies a microburst as it blasts an area of Arizona this week. Awesome video!




Getting back to the floods, videographer David Rankin captured this flash flood, caused by mountain thunderstorms, sweeping down Johnson Canyon, Utah Monday:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stupid People Keep On Driving Into Floods, Keep Getting Stuck

Cars stranded in street flooding in the
Wichita, Kansas area Monday. Photo from KAKE.com 
This is the summer of flash flooding, apparently.

I've noted this already in previous posts, but yet again, a vast part of the nation is under threat of flash floods today, and many areas experienced such deluges Monday.

Today, the flash flood risk zones include a broad stripe from Texas through Oklahoma into Missouri; part of Nevada and the desert Southwest, as monsoon moisture will trigger local torrential thunderstorms; parts of Wyoming, and mountainous West Virginia, where gullywashers could easily sweep down steep slopes today.

This just adds to epic rainfall totals for the year in some parts of the nation, a contrast to the West Coast, where the drought just keeps on grinding on.

The flash floods this week add more to the usual phenonenon we see: So many people driving into flooded streets, and getting stuck.

I guess the National Weather Service's constant refrain, "Turn Around, Don't Drown," isn't working. I don't know why.  It seems pretty easy to understand, at least to my little brain.

I'm amazed at the videos, an example of which you see below, of people seeing that cars and trucks have died out as motorists tried to drive down flooded streets. But does everybody else turn around?

Of course not! Some people soldier on, thinking they have magical powers in which everybody else's car drowns in the water but theirs won't.

In the videos, you do see other people turning around instead of plunging into the water. You can almost see the thought bubble of the people in the cars that are turning around. They look at people with their stuck cars and say, "Loser."

The video below, from StormChasingVideo.com, shows cars struggling amid flash floods in Wichita, Kansas Monday.

Wichita isn't exactly a remote, boony one road town. A little under 400,000 people live there. It's a pretty sizeable town.  You'd think that if one street floods, you can turn around and find a nearby street that's not flooded and do a detour there.

So, if you encounter flooding today, no matter where you are, don't drive through it. The car and life you save might be your own.